Before every bike trip, I pop on Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” Loud. Quite loud. The first lines prep my spirit, “Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway, looking for adventure…” My soul needs adventure, to test myself, to move beyond fears. Riding comes with risks, but few choices match the selfishness of adventure seeking.
As we grow closer to Jesus, we face that tension—how can we feed our souls and touch other’s lives for the kingdom?
Some anonymous friend
knowing my soul
gave me sub to a men’s adventure magazine
no racy pics
just kayaking killer rapids
climbing mountains that kiss the stratosphere
the latest and best gear
to go anywhere
to do anything
money no object
Perhaps the pics would have been more safe
For memories of youthful adventure flooded back
solo cross-country motorcycle trips
no destination but the ever-expanding horizon
rappelling down a 190 foot bridge tower
on a 110 foot rope
with no rope at all
ready to go
of too many years
with too few adventures
facing hostile church boards
partners in ministry
to the adventure
that feeds my soul
The pic above, of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, is the 190 foot tower, and in one of the most adventure-packed periods in my life, I changed direction and opted for responsibility. For ministry. For moving away from self-gratification to God-gratification. And yeah, you can tell I have some regrets, but I wouldn’t change that decision. Two truths have helped me. First, adventure and risk and an unknown future are normal in following Jesus. He challenged four businessmen to follow, and “At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:17-20 emphasis added).
Jesus made this normative later, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61-62). That’s hard core—get ready for a ride and don’t look back.
Since my decision, I may not fully lived the wild, but it’s not particularly been mild all the time either. Still doing solo backcountry fishing trips. Motorcycle tours have hit 46 states and three countries. An Iron Butt ride of 1,000 miles in 24 hours at 70 years.
Second, I’ve been privileged to use any gifts I have to touch others, and I cherish that. You see, we only maximize our potential when we give our lives to serving. To sacrifice. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:26-28).
Following Jesus means we live the life he desires we lead. So, we come to the question: What can we do to best serve him? And, once we’ve chosen, let’s remember we made the best choice. The choice for the adventure and thrills and future uncertainty that always accompany Jesus. The lesser choice isn’t particularly a bad one. It’s just not the best. For me, I had to leave behind some of the adventure. Others may need to abandon some of their need for security. Or comfort. Or financial success. Or…
Kick Starting the Application
What value do you place on adventure and challenges? On the continuum of personal adventure or being responsible, where do you land? Try another continuum, personal preference at one end, serving God and others at the other. How have past experiences shaped those scores? Do you get a nudge from God you should move a bit on those lines?
What life does God most desire for you? What changes would that bring? What benefits? What costs will it have? How will you handle regrets over the cost, and they will come?